If you’re like me, you think it is vital to support independent films. If you’re like me, you’re a fan of the horror genre. Yet, there are so many films out there it can be hard to find a good one. Also, who has time to watch a whole bunch of feature-length horror when there are other responsibilities we have to live up to? I’ve got good news for anyone who fits into these categories.
I read about a horror film channel on YouTube called Alter that hosts short horror films you can watch each week for free. I first read about this on the blog Everlasting Hauntings, a great horror blog that you should check out.
Alter features three different short horror films each week so it’s likely you will find something worth watching, no matter what type of horror you prefer. The production values tend to be high quality and the acting is generally good as well. To give you a good example of two short films I think are worth watching, check out the videos below. If you like them, you should subscribe to the YouTube channel asap.
Backstroke is about a runaway who ends up in a precarious position after stealing a car.
The Guest House is about a bored couple who get more than they bargained for while playing a game.
Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. 2020 was a challenge to say the least and not in a fun way. This year I thought that I would face the challenge of the new year in a way that improves upon last year. Instead of the challenge of just muddling through life, let’s have a book, movie, and tabletop RPG challenge!
(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through them I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
I haven’t done a post like this before so please let me know what you think and also, feel free to play along all year. Each list has 12 challenges so one per month should be doable but if you are an overachiever, feel free to knock these out in 12 days or less. If you do take up the challenge let me know how it went. And if you happen to post it onto your blog, let me know, so that I can link to your challenge on my blog.
Below are the rules as far as I am going to follow them. You don’t have to follow the same way I do but these are the rules I set for myself.
How Does This Work? The Rules
There are three separate challenges, one for books, one for movies and one for books, movies and RPGs lumped together. I will tell you a little more about each one and give some potential suggestions for what I think I will do to complete the checkboxes.
Once I finish a challenge I plan to check it off and then post about it on my blog. If you just want to do this for fun and not post on your blog, that is totally cool. If you do post on your blog, let’s compare notes!
These can be done in any order. Feel free to skip to the bottom, go to the middle or meticulously hit each one as they are listed.
I am not in the camp of double dipping so I will not be doing that. If you want to, you won’t get any judgement from me.
If you complete any one of my challenges and post about it on your blog, I will let you choose any one thing in that list’s category for me to review (within reason). For example if you complete my movie challenge and you want me to review The Emoji Movie, I will do it. If you complete my book challenge and want me to read and review a book that you published, I will do it. If you complete my Read-Watch-Play challenge and you want me to play an RPG that you think is really cool, I will play and then review it. Side note: I won’t review anything that I think is too extreme and I have ultimate veto power over what I post on my blog but otherwise, you can tell me what to review.
This is not a rule but these are all downloadable PDF’s so feel free to download and print them or pass them on to friends, relatives, neighbors or office mates looking for something to do!
Challenge 1: Book Challenge
The book challenge should be pretty straightforward. Pick one of the challenges and find a book that matches. Or if you are reading a book and realize that it fits in one of these categories, check it off once you have finished the book!
Some examples of what I plan to do are as follows. The book at the very bottom of my TBR list right now is The Ten Cent Plague, a non-fiction book about the comic book industry that I have been meaning to read forever. Maybe this challenge will finally get me through that one. For a graphic novel that is not about superheroes I plan to read Berlin which I have been told is an excellent book about the fall of the Weimar Republic.
Challenge 2: Movie Challenge
This one should also be pretty straightforward. Watch a movie that matches the category and check off the box once you have finished watching. I watch a lot of movies so for this one I might just watch first and then see if it fits the category after, although I do have some ideas for some of these. For three movies by the same director I am thinking I might take a look at Quentin Tarantino’s movies since it has been a while since I watched some of those. For a movie with an ambiguous ending I am thinking of Inception although I think there are definitely a lot more movies besides that one that have that kind of end. It’s just the first one that popped into my head.
Challenge 3: Read-Watch-Play Challenge
Out of all my challenges, this is the one that I will most likely do in order. It’s pretty easy to find books and movies to fit these categories but I realize that not everyone is familiar with good Tabletop RPG choices so I am going to tell you the ones I plan on doing and even provide you with helpful links if you need a suggestion. (These are affiliate links and if you do buy anything there it helps this blog out immensely at no extra cost to you. No pressure though, never buy anything from a website that you don’t want)
For my D&D 1 shot adventure, I plan to play Second Glance. It’s the follow-up adventure to First Blush, a one-shot that I enjoyed and reviewed on this blog. They are both duet campaigns, meaning you only need two people to play, so great for learning how to play the game. Also, they only cost $2, so it’s a great bargain to get you started.
For a Tabletop RPG I have never played before I have three that I am thinking about. I may end up playing them all but we’ll see. If you have played any of these, let me know what you think. The first one I am considering is Cyberpunk Red. While the video game release was a mess, I’ve always thought Cyberpunk made more sense as a tabletop game anyway. The second I am considering is Wicked Ones. This is sort of a reverse D&D where you play the monsters and try to keep those pesky adventurers from taking all your stuff and wrecking your dungeon. The third one I am considering is Altered Carbon, the TTRPG based on the popular book and Netflix series.
For a Tabletop RPG that takes place in space I plan to play Stars Without Number: Revised Edition. It’s a game about humans returning to the skies after their empire has fallen. I feel like it has a lot of sandbox potential and I’m really looking forward to it. The game has gotten great reviews and it should be interesting.
For a Tabletop RPG starring animals I plan to play Pugmire. It’s like D&D but with all pugs! The world of man is over but Pugs have evolved to take over. How great is that? If you like cats better try playing Adventures for Curious Catsset in the same setting.
I hope you enjoy the challenges I have come up with. Don’t forget to let me know if you plan to play along and how it goes if you do.
Hey everyone, how’s it going out there? It’s me, Slick Dungeon back to give you a review of a genuinely creepy movie on Netflix called His House.
The film stars the phenomenal Wunmi Mosaku who showed off her horror skills recently in Lovecraft Country. Alongside her is Sope Dirisu. The pair play a couple of refugees who are trying to make a new home in London. Helping them is a social worker played by Matt Smith, best known as the 11th doctor from Doctor Who.
Star power aside, His House has something going for it that almost no other haunted house movie has. What is it? A legitimate reason to stay. Most haunted house movies seem to be about a family that buys a new house to find it is haunted. Or to be about people who just have to stay one night to win an inheritance at a haunted house. Or about people who drive out to some remote location for fun and end up in a haunted house. What do all of those types of movies have in common? If people really wanted to, they could just leave. The characters in His House are refugees and if they move for any reason, they lose their refugee status and will be sent back to war torn home they fled. Ghosts and ghouls can hardly be bad enough to make anyone want to do that.
The movie starts out with a few glimpses of the tragedy and loss that the couple experience. Soon they find themselves in a house in London that is much more spacious than they expected, albeit, the home is not in a nice neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination.
Soon strange things start happening in the house and many of the things you would expect in haunted house movies happen. There are weird noises, unexpected visions, and nightmares. What’s really interesting though, is that sometimes it’s hard to tell what is caused by the house or whatever is haunting them and what might just be traumatic memories playing out as they would for anyone who had experienced such real life horrors.
There are major surprises in the film that I won’t give away here but I will just suffice to say that even the reason for the haunting makes sense. This gives the whole film more legitimacy in its scares and if this film doesn’t leave you at least a little bit unsettled, I don’t think anything will.
If you haven’t checked out His House yet, make sure you take some time to take it in. It’s gripping and horrific in the best way possible.
Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here on this night before Halloween and I thought I would review an independent slasher film for you all. I watched Camp Twilight from DarkCoast pictures.
There have been tons of homages to the greatest of the great slasher films. You’ll notice that most of them take place at somewhere like a summer camp, just like Friday the 13th movies do. Why? Low budget locations!
Some of these films hold up as sort of fun romps that can be an enjoyable couple of hours. Others are just terrible films not worth the time of day. While Camp Twilight is certainly not the worst slasher film I have seen, It is nowhere near a good movie. I am going to give spoilers below so if you want to watch this first, feel free to do that and come back to read the review.
The premise is fine for this one. It’s a group of high school students who are essentially forced to go to a camp for a tech free weekend if they want to graduate. A couple of teachers will be there and there are going to be all of the expected summer activities, hiking, kayaking, etc. You can probably guess what happens as soon as it gets dark. Yep, these teenagers go missing as they are picked off one by one. There is some mystery to who is doing the killing and there is, for my taste, just far too much comic relief in the form of the local park rangers.
I will say that when you are trying to make a slasher film, it’s hard to be surprising because it has been done so many times. But by the end of this one, I felt like the supposed plot twists and surprises that were in the film were just there to fill time. A lot of it didn’t make much sense and was honestly a little frustrating.
I love independent movies and I love slasher films that are creative and surprising. Unfortunately this one misses the mark by a pretty wide margin.
The kills are nothing you haven’t seen before if you are a horror fan and although I don’t really have a problem with the acting, the whole thing didn’t seem like it was thought out well enough.
I’m hoping that DarkCoast still keeps making movies because they are bound to come up with a gem in the horror genre eventually but unless you have nothing else to watch and need a new slasher to see, I would stay away from Camp Twilight.
If you do want to watch the movie it will be available for VOD on InDemand, DirecTV, FlixFling, Vudu & Fandango on 11/1
An Independent Thriller Film With the Right Formula
Happy October everyone! Slick Dungeon here and I thought I would kick off this month with a review of an independent film from DarkCoast.
This is a crime thriller about a married couple who have to defend themselves against a home invasion. The film was written by Walker Whited and Sean McCane, with Whited also performing directing duties. It stars Michelle Rose as an ex-Army Sergeant named Heather and Kurt Yue as an average husband with a troubled history named Mark. There is also a nice turn as bad guy Moody played by Michael Aaron Milligan.
There will be some mild spoilers below but you should still be able to enjoy the film if you read on because I will not give away too much. You have been warned.
A couple facing financial hardships and a tragic past are surprised when an intruder breaks into their home. Mark and Heather are not sure what to do when the intruder offers them a large sum of money if they let him go. Acting in self defense, Heather kills the intruder. The natural impulse would be to call the police but Mark realizes that there must be something valuable in their house. The couple agree to spend an hour looking for it before contacting the authorities. This kicks off a night full of intense surprises, an emotional roller coaster, and a ton of action.
The film is overall very satisfying and while it uses the basic formula of Die Hard it does so with enough twists and flourishes that it works. And let’s be honest, that formula works for a reason and is still entertaining to watch. Michelle Rose and Kurt Yue both put in phenomenal performances here and I found them both extremely engaging in their respective parts. Michael Aaron Milligan has a tendency to take his villain role a little too far at times but it’s still a great menacing performance.
The action is rather intense and for once, I mostly did not find myself wondering why in the world the characters would make those choices. Heather is smart and a woman of action. Mark is no soldier but he does things that would make sense given the situation. The bad guys do a few things that might be questionable but then again if the bad guys never made a mistake, the heroes would have no chance right?
The climax of the film is utterly intense and by the time we get there, it feels like Heather and Mark are in real danger and it’s definitely not certain that either will survive. They are a likeable couple with their own flaws and are easily relatable to the audience. These are three dimensional characters which is nice to see in an action film that essentially takes place in a single evening and at a single location.
For a low budget, independent film, this one hits all the right marks and makes for an exciting viewing experience. There are a lot of action films and thrillers you could watch but sometimes it’s nice to see something that was truly independent and this qualifies. Instead of re-watching Die Hard for the millionth time, give this one a try. It’s well worth your time and I definitely recommend it.
By Night’s End will be available on October 6th on the following digital platforms — Amazon, iTunes, DirecTV, FlixFling, Google Play, Vudu and AT&T.
Do yourself a favor and make that a movie night and give this one a try.
Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to review the number one movie on Netflix right now. That’s right, I am here to give you my hot take on Devil All the Time.
The film stars Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson as a couple of southerners who end up at odds with each other. To be honest, that’s a really poor description of the film but those two are the most billable, bankable stars in the movie. I won’t give away any major spoilers here so feel free to read this review even before you watch the film.
The movie is really several story lines that intersect, kind of like Pulp Fiction did but it’s much less disjointed than that movie was. There is a lot of suspense and violence in the film. It’s not for the faint of heart but it’s by no means even close to the bloodiest thing you could watch on Netflix.
The pacing of the film is intentionally slow and deliberate but it is not harmed for that. The acting is stellar and there is a scene with Holland and Pattinson that takes place in a church that is downright electric. The whole movie is worth watching just for that one scene.
While it maybe could have used a few less characters overall, the story is rather interesting and all of the loose ends are tied in a bow, with one notable exception.
If you really like suspense or thriller films, especially the kind that have a slow build up to a majorly interconnected story, this movie is for you. Or if you just like a good drama and need a break from Marvel films but still want to watch Tom Holland, this is worth a watch.
What’s up everyone? Slick Dungeon here back to review the Netflix horror flick We Summon the Darkness. I promise not to give too much away but if you continue reading from here on out there could be mild spoilers. You have been warned.
If you were alive in the 1980’s and knew about the hair metal bands of the time, this movie will bring you right back to that period. The opening has all the iconic things from the 80’s you remember. Leather jackets, teased hair, the old Twinkie boxes and even Jolt cola. The movie follows three women who go to a heavy metal concert. While there they see signs that things are not exactly great in the area. Apparently there has been a slue of murders attributed to a satanic cult. When the women get to the concert they meet three men out for one last night of fun before they say goodbye to one of their group for good. The two groups start to hang out and the evening suddenly becomes very deadly.
This movie is described as horror and while there certainly are horror elements to it, I would classify this as more of a thriller than anything. The plot is very grounded in reality and although we have seen this sort of thing before this movie does have a fresh take on it.
The movie makes great use of limited locations and most of the night takes place in a single house. In some ways this reminded me of The Purge but I think the movie I would say this is closest to mirroring is the excellent Kevin Smith film Red State.
If you like the 80’s, if you are a fan of horror or thriller films, and if you enjoy seeing some of those conventions upended, this movie is for you.
Hey out there comedy horror fans, what’s going on? McG is back with another crazy horror comedy film on Netflix. Allow me, Slick Dungeon, to give you a little review of it. There will be some mild spoilers below so you have been warned.
The first film in the franchise (wait is 2 films a franchise?) followed Cole, a kid who was just a little too old to have a babysitter. Turns out his babysitter was part of a demon blood cult and they spent a night trying to kill him. It didn’t end well for them. If you want to know more about it, see my review of the first one here.
It’s two years later and while Cole is no longer under lethal threat, he is still the picked on kid at high school. But what about the girl he met from the first movie, doesn’t she like him? They kissed at the end of the last one, she must like him right? Well, she does seem to be the only one that does still think he is okay. She even invites him to go to a lake house for the weekend when….
HUGE SPOILER COMING
She tries to kill him because she is part of that same blood cult from the first movie.
The rest of the movie for the most part, plays out as you would expect. Old cast members return, new ones try to kill Cole, all of them die in gruesome and hilarious ways. There is another twist at the end that I won’t give away.
This movie is a little bigger than the first and there are a few more stunts but basically, if you watched and enjoyed the first one, this one is not a bad follow up. I definitely chuckled through most of it although some of the jokes felt less than fresh.
The only thing I never really bought was the beginning of the movie where they say that there was no evidence of anyone else being at Cole’s house the night of the first movie. I mean, what? There was like ten gallons of blood spilled and major damage to multiple parts of the neighborhood but whatever, I will let it go, this is not Hamlet.
I will say that I hope they leave it here because I think any movie after this one is going to lose the point. Does this movie have a point? Well, not really but it’s still fun, dumb, entertainment which is exactly what I look for in a horror comedy.
If you like comedy and have a strong stomach, this is totally worth ninety minutes of dumb fun.
Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here with a spoiler free review of the number one film on Netflix as of today 7/16. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it because I am not giving anything away but I’ll let you know if this movie is worth your time.
The movie stars Charlize Theron as the leader of a small band of mercenaries who are extremely proficient killers and intelligent warriors.
It’s best if you go into the film not knowing much more than that. For that reason I am going to only tell you a few things about why you should watch this. There is good reason for this movie to be trending number one right now. It’s an intelligent film, the action makes sense in every battle scene and the actors all put in top notch performances.
While there are certainly elements that might be considered silly by some, if you can get past basically one thing, this is an incredible ride. There will undoubtedly be sequels to this and I am all in for them. The fight sequences are near perfect. Unlike a lot of action films, I never once found myself wondering why a team would go in that way or why they would make the choices they do. Theron, as always, puts in an outstanding turn as the lead character. But to me the actor to watch in this is Kiki Lane who plays a character named Nile. She proves as soon as she is on screen that she belongs with the more well known performers.
There’s no way this will get any Oscar nods because at essence it’s a genre film, but it should.
I don’t usually say this, but I don’t even recommend you read the Netflix description of the film. Just click watch. As long as you can handle some bloody action scenes, this movie is absolutely worth your time. If you don’t know much going in, the whole movie will surprise you. If you do read the description, I think it still will.
The only weak part I see in the film is toward the latter half and it more has to do with what the antagonist is doing, which in my opinion is something we’ve seen too often. But even with that, the film plays out to a satisfying conclusion and it absolutely left me wanting more.
Luckily for me there is a graphic novel that is the source material so I intend to seek that out to get more. It’s by comics legend Greg Rucka and the fact that the source and the screenplay are both written by him I am sure is why this film is so intelligent.
So what are you doing still reading this? Go watch the movie! Let me know what you thought about it in the comments.
Hello out there all you internet people. Slick Dungeon here, back with a movie review for ya. This time I am reviewing the Zack Snyder directed glossy action photo come to life known as Sucker Punch.
Heads up that there will be spoilers in this review so if you want to watch it before reading the review, you have been forewarned.
The movie stars Emily Browning as Babydoll, a young woman who is locked up in a mental institution and copes by envisioning it as a brothel. It’s actually both more complicated and more simple than that. There are basically three layers to the film and I will talk a little bit about all of them.
One of the things you can say without question is that the film looks great. It’s highly stylized and there are tons of interesting shots and camera movements happening, along with some pretty impressive CGI.
But that’s about all there is. It’s full of amazing style and pretty close to zero substance.
At the beginning of the movie, we are treated to a wordless opening where through action and lots of slow motion shots, we find out that Babydoll has an abusive stepfather. We also see an incident in which the stepfather tries to abuse Babydoll’s sister, and through Babydoll’s actions, her sister accidentally ends up dead. The stepfather is apparently able to frame it that Babydoll is insane and should be locked up in a mental institution and be lobotomized. Blue, one of the orderlies in the institution, played by Oscar Isaac, knows that Babydoll is not at fault but accepts payment from the stepfather to allow the lobotomy to happen. The day finally comes where the procedure is going to happen and right before we see the spike go into Babydoll’s eye, the movie shifts focus into a sort of dream realm where Babydoll is in a brothel. And then within this dream realm, when Babydoll dances, she enters a third realm in which she is a skilled warrior with a ragtag team of women with her. These women are in the brothel and exist in the mental institution as well. For the purposes of this review I am going to call these realms, the warrior realm, the brothel realm, and reality.
In reality, Babydoll has spotted a few things that might help her to escape the mental institution. When she goes into the brothel realm, these items exist as well. In the warrior realm, Babydoll is told what she needs to get in order to be free. She has to get a map, fire, a key, a knife and solve a mystery. In the warrior realm, she learns to be a fighter and how to get these items. Then she shifts back into the brothel realm and one of the women on her team has gotten the item. I don’t want to give everything away so I won’t go too much into how that’s all accomplished.
Most of the movie plays out in what you might call a, “collect the coupons” style. They have to get a thing, they get a thing, then that leads to another thing. Only after they have all the things, can the story continue. In this case, obviously, the point is for Babydoll to get all the stuff and escape the mental institution in real life. It seems like she’s able to accomplish it all in the brothel realm, with some sacrifice occurring, but it’s less clear whether or not she can do this in reality.
I’m not going to let you know if she escapes or what happens in the end, you’ll have to watch for yourself to find out. But I did have a few questions and comments about the movie.
I’m really tired of the trope of evil mental institutions. So many movies and television shows do this. If a mental institution of the type depicted in these movies existed in reality, they would be shut down in a heartbeat. I’m not saying abuses don’t occur in existing institutions, that obviously happens, but the vast majority of people who work in this field, are legitimately trying to help people overcome their illness. Now, I know this is a really stylized movie and you can say that this is just fictional and makes for a good story. I understand that argument but I find it hard to believe that any current institution would do a lobotomy. It’s not a procedure, if you can even call it that, that makes any sense. And the institution looks grimy and run down and it’s just obvious there are abuses everywhere. This type of institution occurred in the early days of mental health but we are long past all that. This is just a pet peeve of mine but why do so many filmmakers take the lazy way out and use a mental institution to portray menace? It’s old, it’s boring, and it’s inaccurate if you put it in the modern era.
Leaving all that aside, the things that Babydoll has to get in order to escape the institution make no sense from a logical point of view. She has to get a map. The map is a blueprint of the institution that Blue keeps in his office. Why in the world, would that map be framed in his office? If it’s a plan in case of fire escape, that would be posted everywhere for anyone in the institution to see. If it’s a blueprint of the actual building, there is no logic to keeping that in your office. It would be an obvious way for someone to figure out an escape.
The key doesn’t make any sense either. Blue wears a master key to all doors around his neck. While this might make sense in the Brothel realm, it makes no sense in the institution. Weirdly, the key is not on Blue in the Brothel realm, but is on his neck in reality. If you work in a mental institution, especially one that might have residents who could reasonably attack you, jewelry would not be allowed for the staff for obvious reasons. So why in the hell would you wear a freaking master key around your neck where anyone could grab it? That makes no sense.
The fire also makes no sense. In reality an orderly has a Zippo lighter that he fiddles with. Babydoll wants it to start a fire with so that the doors would be unlocked. No way this item is allowed in a mental institution, again for extremely obvious reasons. If a staff member is a smoker, it would be expected that they go outside to do that and have their lighters, cigars, cigarettes or whatever out there. Now you might think that the orderly could still have sneaked it in, and you would have a point. But then it makes no sense that he is playing with it. Why would you allow a lighter in this place?
The one item that does make sense is the knife. They get that from the kitchen staff and clearly you need knives to cook. What doesn’t make sense is that the chef wears a knife belt around himself. It’s not like having the knife holstered at your back is logical for a chef. Why didn’t the chef us a knife block or something similar?
Despite all that, if you can get past these things, and enjoy the movie, it’s not a bad time. I’ve certainly seen worse movies but I do wish Zack Snyder had done like, twenty minutes of googling on mental institutions and thought about the logic of some of these things.
When Babydoll starts dancing in the Brothel realm, all the men seem to get hypnotized, and can’t look away from here. What kind of incredible dance moves does she have? No idea because they always cut away to the Warrior realm when she starts dancing. From what I can tell, her dance mostly involves her slowly moving her shoulders and walking slightly forward. Couldn’t they have shown the dance once? I mean come on.
I think the most enjoyable part of this was the whole Warrior realm where there is lots of action and cool effects. Babydoll and her team seem to exist in a kind of steampunk world where there are zombie soldiers, giant robots, orcs, dragons, bombs, and samurai. I want to see that movie. Could we just have that movie start to end? We could forget all the other stuff and maybe get some actual character development and then this wouldn’t just look good but might also be good. Can we get that please?
Like a lot of other movies that choose style over substance, (I am thinking of Suicide Squad in particular) the soundtrack is phenomenal. There is really good music here and it pairs well with the visuals. It makes me feel frustrated that it wasn’t a better movie because of that.
I understand a lot of what the movie was trying to convey. The men in the movie were all horrible people, with one single exception. The women are abused in reality and in the Brothel realm but get to be amazing fighters in the warrior realm. I respect the intent, but it comes off as pretty much cartoonish. Look, there is a man, he is evil with a capital E. There is nothing more there. The women are good with a capital G. I’m not saying this type of characterization never works, but this film didn’t spend enough time building it up so it doesn’t work. Snyder should have spent his time thinking less about how things look and more about what the characters are about for this movie to make sense.
Now, it might sound like I just utterly hated this movie. I didn’t. I really think the visuals are interesting. None of the actors put in poor performances. The soundtrack is amazing. But, it never comes together. There’s just not enough story here. All style, no substance. If you are looking for a movie that you don’t need to think too much about, that has plenty of interesting action, and is for the most part predictable, it’s a decent time.
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